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Going to China and experiencing the love and selfless spirits of the people has left a deep impression on my heart. The Chinese people, particularly the students whom we worked with and befriended in Anshan, were always going out of their way to make sure that our needs were met. Most of them had hardly any kind of material wealth, and yet they would try to constantly pay for dinners and other outings.  I recall on one occasion, while I was dining with the students in my group, I excused myself to go to the bathroom with the intent of paying for the bill. I had learned this trick by observing the locals and I thought I was being slick. As I was about to pay, I was grabbed by both arms and literally dragged backwards away from the cashier! They told me that if I paid they would be angry with me and that it was Chinese culture for them to take care of their guest. Later in our trip when we were planning on taking some people out to eat, in order to ensure that our guests would not out maneuver us,  Sam Eto and I went to the restaurant the day before to tell the staff that only one of us was allowed to pay.

On several occasions we would go to eat at a restaurant with our friends and rather than eating they would hover around us grilling or boiling our food, and then going even further to keep our plates filled with whatever they thought we needed to eat. Needless to say, this was very awkward at first. I soon learned to just say “xie xie” (thank you) and enjoy the food. Their actions rubbed off on me, and when I would imitate their hospitality with my fellow UAB class mates and other Chinese people that we would entertain, I experienced a feeling which I cannot find a word for, the feeling of taking care of someone and making them comfortable.

With the Chinese, it is of course about who is the host and who is the honored guest. So if you are a good host then you will ensure that all the needs of your guests are met before they can raise a finger to meet them themselves or even better yet,  being a step ahead by knowing what they are about to need. To be a good guest you will politely and graciously accept what you are given, being sure to express your gratitude when you toast your host.

Another great example of the genuine caring hearts of our Chinese friends would be when it came time to leave Anshan to go to our next destination. Our friends took us out to dinner, giving us very personal gifts. When it came time to go our separate ways the whole group sent us to our hotel door, refusing to leave until we went in and were out of sight. All parties shed tears. Some even returned the next morning and sent us off to the Airport which was in a neighboring city almost two hours away. They waited with us until we went through customs and then had to find their own transportation back to Anshan. All that, after only three weeks!

The kindness and selfless giving that the people of China gave to me really struck a chord. Their actions and attitudes opened my eyes to just how selfish and self-seeking I am. I hope that I can stay as conscientious of my actions and motives as I am now and not become insensitive to those around me.

Today we went to what the local’s call “zao shi” the morning market. The market was a long road that had hundreds of venders selling just about anything you could ever think of  needing. Some things that they had were fresh vegetables,  live chickens, puppies, fish, soy-milk, jewelry, shoes, clothes, and so many other random things. And the best thing about the market is that everything is so cheap! If you do not like the price that they give you, you can always just bargain and negotiate with them on a lower price. It was very interesting to see how the local people bargain and negotiate.

Chicken

Hospitality and Kindness

Chinese people have a strong sense of camaraderie. They are always willing to help other Chinese in need, but their kindness doesn’t stop there. So many Chinese students have helped both my fellow UAB students and I.

They will help us in everything from fanning us and giving us napkins if we are hot to helping us order and eat food at a restaurant. Their consideration for our well being, comfort, and enjoyment is beyond anything I have seen in the states.

I think I have eaten at the Anshan University Cafeteria 3 nights in a row for free because of their hospitality. I myself am starting to feel guilty with all the help they offer me, but I am enjoying the friends I am making and, even with the language barrier, enjoying the time spent with them.

Right: My Chinese friend 刘晓娜(liuxiaona) showing DJ, Josh, and I around 219 park.
Left: Chinese students from the International Class helping us order food until we were finished eating, even though they had already eaten dinner!

The first day on campus we were invited to have lunch with the President of Anshan Normal University at a beautiful restaurant in downtown Anshan. It was in a private room with probably one of the biggest tables I have every seen in my life…I mean this table was HUGE!! This was also probably the most food that any of us has every seen on one table at once. The president seemed to spare no expense in making us feel welcomed. There was a huge variety of food for us to choose from, any thing from sea food to chicken to beef, and plenty of vegetables. During the lunch the president gave a toast to the unity of ANU and UAB, and as a gesture of appreciation many of us students gave toast as well.

The HUGE table!!

 

 

       During our time with the students in Mr.Pang’s class we soon realized how helpful and friendly the students are. They have made each of us feel so welcomed. At first it was a little hard to cross the language barrier but once we learned how to communicate with each other we saw how much we have in common. I have 14 students in my group in Mr. Pang’s class and they are all girls. They are so nice and friendly! They have gone out their way to make me feel at home. I can’t wait to get to know them better.

Upon our first full day in Anshan, we all took a trip to the mall. On the way, I noticed something unusual and somewhat crazy: pedestrians do not have the right-of-way. That’s right, motorized vehicles WILL NOT stop for you.

Taking a cab is a whole other experience in itself. If you are looking for a Grand Theft Auto-type experience just come to Anshan, China because I promise you, you will not be disappointed. Tons of swerving action and EVERYONE honks at EVERYONE!

Lots of honking!

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